Status Summary

During the 2015 session, the bill passed in the House, 97 - 0 but died in the Senate Law & Justice committee. During the 2016 session, the bill has been reintroduced and retained in its current status. It has been referred to House Rules. The bill was pulled in Rules and voted on by the House. The vote was 97 in favor, 1 excused. The bill was heard and exec'd in Law and Justice, sent to Rules, pulled in Rules and passed unanimously by the Senate. HB 1553 was signed into law by the Governor.

Legislative Session

2016

Status

In Progress

Sponsor

Walkinshaw

HB 1553 establishes Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) that provide a process for people who were previously sentenced by a WA court and who have successfully changed their lives to seek a court document confirming their changed circumstances. The bill identifies criteria for applying for a CROP (e.g. who can/can't apply, the length of time that must have elapsed from sentencing in order to apply), the decision-making authority of the court with respect to issuing a CROP, and the like. Applications for a CROP must be filed as a civil action and courts in which applications have been filed must schedule hearings a minimum of 4 times per year. The Administrative Office of the Courts is directed to develop an informational brochure designed to assist applicants applying for a CROP. The Dept. of Social and Health Services and Dept. of Health are immune from suit based upon its exercise of discretion as laid out in the legislation. A CROP does not apply to the state's abuse and neglect registry and the Dept. of Social and Health Services must include CROPs as part of its criminal history records, qualifying letters, or other assessments. Additionally, the bill states, a CROP does not affect any employer's or housing provider's discretion to individually assess every applicant and to hire or rent to the applicants of their choice.

As amended by the Public Safety Committee: As amended, HB 1553 does the following: (1) limits the scope of the immunity granted to the Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Health by providing immunity from suit for damages rather than immunity from suit generally; (2) clarifies that an applicant for a certificate must provide notice of the application to all prosecuting attorneys in all jurisdictions where the applicant was convicted of a crime in the five years preceding the application; (3) requires that a court declining to consider an application or dismissing an application must state the reasons for its decision on the order; (4) clarifies that the Washington State Gambling Commission is exempt from the act; and (5) makes technical corrections.

2015 House Floor Amendments: The bill as amended requires a person, in order to be eligible for a certificate of restoration of opportunity, to be fully compliant with a payment plan unless good cause is established with the court, rather than having made nine payments in the last twelve months or has good cause for missing payments. Additionally, the bill as amended requires the Department of Social and Health Services to adopt rules to implement the following obligations: The certificate of restoration of opportunity cannot be included in the state abuse and neglect registry; A finding of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property based on a certificate of restoration of opportunity cannot be removed; and a certificate of restoration of opportunity shall be included in criminal history reports. Further, the Department of Health is required to include a certificate of restoration of opportunity on its public website under certain circumstances.

2016 House floor amendments:

  • Requires a person, in order to be eligible for a ¬†certificate of restoration of opportunity, to be fully compliant with a payment plan unless good cause is established with the court, rather than having made nine payments in the last twelve months or has good cause for missing payments
  • Requires the Department of Social and Health Services to adopt rules to implement the following obligations: not include the certificate of restoration of opportunity in the state abuse and neglect registry; not remove a finding of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property based on a certificate of restoration of opportunity; and; include a certificate of restoration of opportunity in criminal history reports.
  • Requires the Department of Health to include a certificate of restoration of opportunity on its public website under certain circumstances.
  • Adds to the list of criminal convictions disqualifying a person from obtaining a certificate of restoration of opportunity, including the following: Any class A felony; an attempt to commit a class A felony; criminal solicitation of or criminal conspiracy to commit a class A felony; extortion in the first degree; drive-by shooting; vehicular assault when under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, or by the operation of any vehicle in a reckless manner; and luring.
  • Extends the waiting period for qualifying for a certificate of restoration of opportunity for persons convicted of certain violent offenses from two to five years after sentencing and release from confinement.
  • Exempts the state and local governments from complying with the requirements of the bill for the licensing, certification, or qualification of the following professionals: Accountants; assisted living facilities employees; bail bond agents; escrow agents; long-term care workers; nursing home administrators; nursing; physicians and physician assistants; private investigators; receivers; security guards; teachers; notaries public; private investigators; real estate brokers and salespersons; security guards; and vulnerable adult care providers. Removes sections pertaining to these professions.
  • Restores the lifetime ban from public office when a person holding public office is convicted of a felony or malfeasance, regardless of whether or not the person obtains a certificate of restoration of opportunity.
  • Permits the disqualification of a person from employment at a county treasurer's office because of a prior guilty plea or conviction of a felony involving embezzlement or theft regardless of whether the person holds a certification of restoration of opportunity.
  • Expands civil immunity for the state with respect to certificates of restoration of opportunity by including actions brought under the administrative procedure act.
  • Provides counties, cities, towns, municipal corporations, and quasi-municipal corporations with immunity from any suit in law, equity, or any action under the administrative procedure act with respect to certificates of restoration of opportunity.
  • Provides employers and housing providers with immunity from suit in law, equity, or under the administrative procedure act based upon its discretion to consider a certificate of restoration of opportunity.
  • Prohibits evidence of a crime for which a certificate of restoration of opportunity has been issued from being introduced in an action alleging negligence or intentionally tortious conduct of the employer or housing provider with respect to the employment of or provision of housing to the recipient of a certificate of restoration of opportunity.
  • Specifies that the bill does not create a protected class, private right of action, any right, privilege, or duty, or to change any right, privilege, or duty existing under law.
  • Specifies that the bill does not modify a licensing or certification applicant's right to a review of any agency's decision under the administrative procedure act or other applicable statute or agency rule.
  • Specifies that a certificate of restoration of opportunity does not remove or alter citizenship or legal residency requirements already in place for state agencies and employers.